The Werewolves Crew

Matt is an ordinary boy with a horrible family. One day he leaves for school and his life is thrown upside down when he encounters not only the police but notorious criminals The Werewolves Crew. As he's been chased through the streets for crimes he didn't commit, one of the Werewolves, a girl named Scar comes to his aid and makes him a member, Mutt.

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1. Mission

 The cloudless sky was a canvas of jet black as he gazed up, the moon appeared barely a sliver of silver against the dark backdrop. It was as though the stars had all come out tonight, just for them. It was shame, Underdog thought, that it wasn’t a full moon. Though considering how long it had been since he had last seen the sky, he wasn’t about to complain.

  He let out a long breath, a brisk wind picked up and he tugged his hood up over his head, shivering as the wind whistled its high pitched song in his ears.

  It was mid-September and the cold nights of winter were fast approaching. Underdog could see his breath like a plume of smoke curling in front of him, whenever he exhaled. He rubbed his gloved hands together futilely.

  The others didn’t seem to mind the cold. Perched in the shadows he looked out past the cover of the bushes, the off license car park they were surveying was dingy at best. Littered with the usual empty cans and smashed bottles and what appeared to be some questionable empty packets that smelled … earthy. He wrinkled his nose as the wind blew in their direction. Luckily there didn’t seem to be any dealers out tonight but Underdog glanced over his shoulder again.

  “Come on,” Venom insisted, elbowing Robin in the ribs. Underdog squinted over at them, the cold air stinging his eyes. Venom had abandoned his hood, instead his scarf was pulled up to cover the lower half of his face, all that Underdog could see was caramel skin and round almond eyes, quickly betraying his Asian background. “This guy won’t even notice us.”

  The faint beam of light from the solitary car, idling by the open back door of the store, was just enough to see him.

  “We’ll wait for this guy to leave then we’ll get out of here.” Robin barked his orders at them. “We can’t risk anyone seeing us.” The hood of his coat was up, casting dark shadows over his features and pushing his long raven hair into his eyes. Under that a t-shirt was visible, with more holes in than his leadership skills and slim jeans that were making his crouch look even more difficult than it needed to be.

  Underdog rolled his eyes, the dim light providing enough cover to save him from a lecture. If Robin hadn’t have been the leader before Underdog joined the group, there would be no way in hell he would follow orders from someone like him. 

  The whoosh of a car sent Underdog’s head whipping round. He wobbled, putting a hand on Jumper’s shoulder to steady him. His blue eyes were wide and electric as he extended an arm. Jumper was bouncing on the balls of his feet, his brown spiked hair darkened from gel.

  Through the open shutters they could see the store was empty. Underdog’s watch read 4:07am. The shop must have been closed for hours.

  “Is this guy high?” Paintz mused, shaking his head. “Or is he just drunk?”

  Whichever it was, judging by the last ten minutes spent crouched in a bush, toes numbing from the cold, he was in no rush to leave. Another gust of wind blew rubbish from the overflowing bins across the car park, along with some not so pleasant smells.

  “This guy must be on crack,” Jumper decided. Underdog adjusted his footing, toes almost dead from the cold. The guy inside stumbled past the open door again, something broke inside as he knocked into the shelf.

  Underdog’s nerves stood on edge. Despite hiding in the shadows, hoods drawn and empty backpacks slung over their shoulders, he felt exposed. This was not their target. They we’re heading into town, hoping the streets would be deserted at this hour, when Robin had stopped. It only had taken a few minutes of espionage to discover the ‘threat’ was nothing more than a terrible employee.

  Ten minutes later, they were wasting time. “Whatever he’s on, he doesn’t look half as bad as five teenagers snooping in the bushes.” Underdog gave in and joined the argument, braced for whatever excuse Robin was bound to throw his way. “Let’s get on with it.”

  It hadn’t been luck that had kept them from being caught all these years.

  Deciding he didn’t need Robin’s permission, once the guy disappeared back into the store Underdog pounced to his feet. Halfway round the bushes something snagged his sleeve, dragging him back. Underdog lost balance and landed unceremoniously on his arse.

  “What the-” a chorus of shushes cut him off. He yanked his sleeve out of Robin’s grip. His eyes darkened and bore down on him, making sweat trickle down Underdog’s spine.

  He pulled himself up with a grunt as the guy re-appeared for the umpteenth time. The light inside the store went out with a pop, plunging them further into darkness. The door swung shut behind him as he not-so-expertly balanced a crate of beer in one hand and his keys in the other.

  Underdog narrowed his eyes, sight adjusting to the darkness. They watched with bated breath as he swayed on his feet. His hand slipped past the lock, keys scraping against the metal. As he missed the lock for the third time the keys slipped between his fingers and hit the ground with a clatter. He didn’t even seem to notice.

  Venom slapped Robin on the arm. “Did you see that?”  

  Underdog didn’t feel much like sharing in their enthusiasm; he was still wiping mud off the back of his jeans. He straightened his jacket and lifted his hood back up over his ears, the wind howling in anguish, hoping he wasn’t getting mud in his already mud coloured hair.

  The engine revved, shattering the silence. The fallen keys were left abandoned. The guy looked like he’d fallen into his car, he was sprawled across both front seats, yet somehow the crate of beer had avoided being a casualty. The door slammed shut and Underdog’s breath caught as the car raced across the car park, leaving a trail of tire marks in its wake. The car drove off up the street, the sound of tires screaming and stray cat’s screeches could still be heard after the car disappeared out of sight.

  House lights flickered on up and down the street.

  “Crap.” Underdog flew to his feet, taking Jumper with him. They scattered into the shadows of the building and were pressed up against the back wall of the store before the first window cracked open.

  From across the car park they could see a number of curtains twitching, looking for signs of threat. For signs of them. Now the car was gone, there was no light to give them away, but Underdog’s insides were turning to liquid.

  “What a total prick.” Jumper was the first to move after the last house light went off. Completely unaware anyone could still be watching. “Well at least now we don’t have to trek down town. This place will do.”

  The threat of some scared local do-gooder calling the police, complaining of a street racer and a couple of kids out past their bed time was slowing turning the liquid to ice in his stomach. 

  Jumper flashed a wicked smile looking up at the open shuttered and slipped the crow bar he was holding into his backpack. “This makes things a lot easier. Do you think anyone will call the cops?” 

  Underdog made a face. A couple of kids out past their bed time, with a crow bar. The prison sentence in his head got a bit longer.

  Paintz, the only one without an empty backpack, dumped his supplies on the ground, ready to get to work.

  With a face like thunder Robin pushed past them, blocking the path to the door. “Wait up,” he held up his hands about to rain on everyone’s parade. “We should stick to the plan, if there are police on their way we should not be here.”

  “You’re so full of bullshit,” Underdog’s anger finally spiked. “No one but us knows where we’d planned to raid tonight.” Swinging his backpack off his shoulders he let it drop to floor. “We need supplies. You’re fucking crazy if you think we’re walking away from this. The door is open.” He shot a look at Paintz, whose fingers were twitching to start their mark on the wall. “No one has to know it was us who robbed the place, it could be anyone. Don’t you guys think our case file is big enough by now?” Underdog jabbed a finger into Robin’s chest. “For once maybe we don’t have to make the headlines.”

  Robin rounded on him but before he could get his hands on him Paintz cut in between them. Underdog curled his fingers into fists to stop his hands shaking.

  Paintz threw his hood back and his blond hair shone silver under the moon light. “Now, now, let’s not overthink this.” His smile was crooked as he, ignoring Underdog’s advice, waited for his cue. “We need to get a move on.”

  “Dudes,” Jumper threw his arms up in mock exaggeration. “We can be in and out before the cops bother to check this place out or we can still be lurking around when they realize who’s broken in?”

  Venom shrugged a yes, turning on his heel, he had one hand on the door before Robin growled, “Hold on a sec!”

  He ran a disgruntled hand through his hair but still having to play boss, he pulled the walkie out of his pocket and turned his back on the group. “Chip, we’ve got a change of plan.”  

  Underdog scoffed and retrieved his backpack with trembling hands. The second Robin’s back was turned Venom and Jumper darted through the door ahead of him. Underdog picked up the keys and stuffed them into his pocket. While Robin wasted time explaining the situation to the others, they could be ready to leave.

  The inside of the store was pitch black, the shelves rose ominously to the ceiling, casting long shadows across the aisles. There was a storeroom door to the right, wedged open with boxes of stock and Venom squeezed his way inside. Underdog could hear as he rifled through the fresher supplies.

  Jumper darted down the first aisle. It looked all booze, he was sure to make room for a few cans. Underdog shook his head when the fridge door rattled open.

  Instead he quickly shot down the next aisle. He scanned the shelves too quickly, blinded by dread. Any second they could hear sirens racing towards them. 

  The aisle was filled with more alcohol, a heavy waste of space when the freezers were running low of food. He ran to end of the aisle and bumped into Jumper by the freezers. He already had a can open and took a huge swig. Underdog decided not to comment, and hoping it wasn’t as bad as it looked he loaded the bottom of his bag with frozen meals; burgers, chicken, chips, ice cream, all the convenience store essentials.

  He tossed a bag of veg across to Jumper. “Really man?” he raised an eyebrow at him.

  “You can’t live off processed shit forever, bag it,” Underdog told him firmly.

  Jumper huffed and dropped it into his bag before heading down the concessions aisle. Underdog heaved a sigh and grabbed another bag of frozen veg. From experience he knew it was much easier than carrying too many cans.

  No more than a minute or two after Robin finished talking, the static voice found its way back through the walkie. “All sorted, CCTV is down and the last five minutes of tape of you lot prancing round is gone. All anyone will know tomorrow is that guy stole a crate and was too drunk to lock up or put the alarm on.”

  “Nice work Chip.” Underdog heard Robin’s reply.

  “They might even assume he took more than a crate as well.” Chip dragged the next sentence out suggestively. “Pretty hard to pin the blame on us with no CCTV and a sleazy employee, no one has to know anyone else has been in.” But Robin had never been one for taking advice.

  Underdog could hear Paintz outside, already working on their signature calling card. They wouldn’t need CCTV to know exactly who was responsible. Underdog’s stomach tightened, the police could already be on their way and they’d be caught red handed.

  A crash came from the front of the store as Venom tumbled out of the store room, a second later he dashed past. “Grab some eggs from by the door,” Underdog called after him. “And bread.”

  “Already covered,” he called back. “Got the best dates money can’t buy.”

   Underdog didn’t need the guilt trip. They had to get out. “Hey Kim Possible, put the beeper away, get in here and do your job.” He called outside to Robin. “We don’t have time for this.”

  “Fuck you.” Robin’s voiced boomed across the empty store. He unzipped his backpack and marched through the open back door. Venom was sampling crisps in the doorway but turned to spit them out.

  “Maybe we should have thought this place through.” He made a face like he’d just tasted something sour. Underdog scowled, an off license slash convince store was never going to top their favorite grocers list.   

  Venom flinched as Robin slapped the bag out of his hand. “Stop dicking around and hurry up.”

  “Not cool. I’m done, where’ve you been?” Venom threw both of his hands up, shoving Robin hard in the chest. “What’s wrong with you today?”

  Robin fell backwards, straight into the shelf behind him. The rack tipped with his weight. It was too late when Venom reached out to stop Robin falling and they both crashed to the floor, along with an entire rack of wine bottles.

  The sound of smashing glass was like gun shots in Underdog’s ears, sending him scrambling towards the door. He threw his arms up but not before a rain of cans hurtled down as it tipped. He winced as they hit him, hard enough to bruise.

  He could only watch as the rack careered towards him, sending the rest of the stock flying. The weight of the shelf knocked the wind out of him and he was thrown to the floor. He landed in a heap and yelled as whole thing landed on top of him, crushing in to his back.

  “You have got to be kidding me!” his voice came out in a wheeze. Another crash came from behind him, as the shelves fell across the store in a real life game of dominoes. He flinched each time something hit the floor, but he couldn’t move. The weight of the shelves were pinning him to the floor. “Fucking idiots, get me out of here!” 

  Underdog sucked in a painful breath as the shelves lifted an inch off him. He coughed as the air reached his strained lungs. Hands grappled for him and he twisted to reach up, freeing his arms from under him.

  “Underdog, we got you, we got you.” His shoulders were screaming at him as they pulled, threating to dislocate. A scream was torn from him as his whole body scraped along the rack, tearing the skin from his back, until finally his feet cleared the wreckage and the shelf fell the last few inches to the floor with a bang.

  Jumper hooked his hands under his armpits and hauled him to his feet, he yelled as his shoulders protested.

  “You okay man?” Jumper’s eyes were wide with panic. “The whole street will have heard that, we gotta move.”

  For once Underdog just didn’t care. He turned and launched himself at Robin, sending them both flying in to an open fridge. Most of the bottles that hit the floor exploded and they slid down the aisle, now a river of booze.

  Robin’s arms flailed, unable to keep balance from the tackle. Underdog grabbed the front of his t-shirt as they hit the floor and sent a fist straight towards his face, connecting with his jaw with a satisfying crunch.

  “Nice job dickhead.” Underdog shook him, watching Robin’s head loll to the side before releasing the grip on his t-shirt. His head fell back and Underdog righted himself on the sticky floor, narrowly avoiding broken glass.

  He gave Robin one last pathetic look before digging his backpack out from under the wreck. He pulled the keys out of his pocket and slammed them down on the counter. Holding his chest he struggled to keep a steady breath. His jeans were soaked up to the knees and he left Robin sitting in a puddle looking like a shitting dog to meet the others back outside.

  The cold air hit him like a brick wall. Venom had fled and was waiting with Paintz. “Sorry man.” Was all he said, his head bent low.

  Underdog couldn’t help but shoot him a filthy look as he zipped his jacket up. “You’re not as much of a dickhead as he is.”

  Most of the lights on the street were on now. A few people were even looking out of open windows or standing in their driveways. The dimness of the car park would only do so much to hide them. Underdog almost felt like taking a bow.

  He turned and saw the paint running blood red down the wall from Paintz’ incriminating masterpiece. Underdog didn’t wait for the rest of them before taking off up the street.

  After a fair distance he risked a glance over his shoulder. Robin’s face was a picture when he saw him half way up the street.

  Taking one last look at the wreckage, Underdog watched as he stormed out of the store, letting the door slam shut behind him.

 

  Morning was breaking as they got back to their base. The sky had gone from a milky twilight swallowing the stars, to a pink fire spreading across the horizon, peaking over the tops of the buildings.

  Underdog kept his pace slow now as he made his way up the street. The distant sound of sirens earlier had sent his pulse racing and his steps quickened. Don’t run, he told himself. Only guilty people run.

  The others had caught up to him, hurrying back, tails between their legs.

  Underdog reeled at the thought of their names scrawled on the side of the building. It wasn’t their brand to leave a wreck like that behind. He could only think of one other time; when Paintz had been running out of supplies and Robin had forced them to raid a D.I.Y store instead of stocking up on food. After a similar night, the place was trashed, ‘multi-coloured mayhem’ the paper had called it.

  The houses they were passing now were empty, windows and doors boarded up, nothing but memories inside. Before they had started raiding stores he’d heard they’d had picked these houses clean, mostly for clothes and bedding. Any food had long turned.

  Jumper crept up behind him and rested a hand on his shoulder. “It’s time.” They both tore their eyes away from the rising sun, never knowing when they might see it again.  

  Robin pulled out a key and unlocked the rusted padlock on the gate.

  Underdog squeezed backpack and all through a gap in the chain fence, letting out an irritated breath. He’d seen the girl’s open the padlock with nothing but a hairclip.  

  The building in front of them was old, decrepit and probably condemned. But it was also home, for some of them for almost a decade.  

  “Whenever you’re done,” he shot back to Robin as he straightened up. “Some of us need to change our pants.” He stretched his leg uncomfortably, the denim chafing his calves.

  “Wonder whose fault that is.” It wasn’t a question. Robin shouldered past him, still nursing his jaw, after locking the gate behind Paintz and Venom.

  Jumper followed Underdog through the fence, flailing like a fish out of water as his backpack caught on a loose link. Underdog gave a tug and he came free.

  The five of them made their way to the door, Venom and Paintz on Robin’s heels and Underdog’s hand on Jumper’s bag, he wondered if anyone else could see the divide in their ranks.

  Underdog opened his mouth to retort but Paintz beat him to it. “Guys, pack it in.” He plucked the keys out of Robin’s hands and unlocked the front door. “Save the pissing contest for once.”

  Underdog was first into the foyer, shoes tracking mud and booze on to the once plush red carpets. These days it was worn down to the floor boards in some parts. Not bothering to turn the lights on the chandeliers hung uselessly above them.  

  The hall was dark when Robin locked the door behind them but Underdog had no trouble navigating after so many years. He threw open the double doors across the hall and headed down the stairs, attempting to keep his steps quiet. The others followed him all the way down to the store rooms. Most of the crew were asleep so they stayed silent as they made their way through the corridors, some of the lights had been left on for them.

  Inside the kitchen he heaved his bag onto the counter took out the perishables from the top, fruit that probably wouldn’t last the week with so many mouths to feed and filled up the fruit bowl.

  Venom unloaded eggs, bacon, ham, cheese and alike into the kitchen fridge, along with a squashed loaf of bread.

  Jumper was busy piling biscuits into the cupboards and passed Underdog the frozen food from the bottom of his bag so he could unload them in to the chest freezers, filling up the space.

  Robin had cereal, two cartons of milk and few bottles of cordial in his bag. His hands itched to punch him again. Instead Underdog bit back the thought and left for the cloak room. Jumper lip curled in to a frown as he closed the kitchen door behind him.

  The cloak room was empty. He dragged an exhausted hand down his face, his pulse was finally settling. There was no such thing as a stress free raid when Robin was involved.  

  He hung his backpack and coat on his peg amongst the others. They were all set out in in a row on the wall with their names painted beneath each peg.

  He stripped down to his boxers and tossed his damp clothes in the wash piles, next to the collection of washing machines and dryers lined up along the wall round the corner.

  In the mirror hanging on the back of the door, he saw he was a pincushion of black and blue bruises, with a red gash the length of his back where the rack had scraped over him. He ran a finger down it and winced.

  It hadn’t been easy but after multiple raids their store rooms were now like a department store. He wasn’t one to care what he wore, so long as it fit. He quickly scanned a rail of t-shirts and pulled it over his head. He found a pair of jog pants on another rail. After he dressed he ditched his shoes, letting them drop into the bin.

  Tiptoeing back out in to the hallway he crossed to the to the guy’s room opposite to get a few hours of sleep.      

  The room was dark but feeling around with his feet he found Statz had left an air mattress free for him, knowing he’d want to crash straight after the mission.

 Statz was currently snoring like a bull on the pull out sofa, arms and legs splayed out and his mop of blond hair just visible under the covers.

  Collapsing down on to the thin bed, he pulled the covers over him, well used to the scratch of the coarse fabric by now. Lying flat, he gazed up at the ceiling, the cracked paint was still visible in places, ruining the illusion of one of Paintz’ masterpieces above him. Instead he closed his eyes trying to remember every detail of the real night sky.

  It wasn’t much of a life but it was the best you could hope for after what they’d all gone through. Dragged up, not brought up, Statz would say.

  Admittedly Underdog’s story wasn’t even the worst. These days he could hardly remember what he’d been arguing with his mum over, but afterwards he couldn’t go back. A pain shot down his leg thinking about that night.

  He pulled the cover all the way over his head he rolled to the side, bringing his knees up to keep his feet covered. As soon as his head hit the pillow he was out.

  He’d done his years of feeling sorry for himself. Now he just wondered if there was ever going to be more than this.

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